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News/Business. (2011) Deborah Feyerick reports on Boston mob boss James 'Whitey' Bulger. (CC)

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Bulger 32, Fbi 15, U.s. 9, Whitey Bulger 9, Boston 8, Maddy 8, Conley 7, Us 5, Glucerna 5, At&t 4, Advair 4, Phoenix 4, Volkswagen 4, South Boston 3, John Conley 3, Jack 3, John Shay 3, Britta 2, Chicago 2, Denmark 2,
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  CNN    CNN Presents    News/Business.  (2011) Deborah Feyerick reports  
   on Boston mob boss James 'Whitey' Bulger. (CC)  

    July 23, 2011
    8:00 - 9:00pm PDT  

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of steel beams is now in a permanent new home. it was moved from a church in lower manhattan to the nearby site where national september 11th memorial and museum will stand. a construction worker discovered the perfectly formed cross standing upright in the rubble in ground zero. i'm don lemon at the cnn world headquarters in atlanta. i'll see you back here tomorrow at 6:00, 7:00, and 10:00 p.m. good night. >> tonight on "cnn presents," ice wars in the arctic. >> come with me aboard this u.s. nuclear powered submarine as we go underneath the polar ice cap. >> narrator: inside the new cold war. extreme cheerleading. >> that's it. >> defying stereotypes. >> and now it's my life. it's pretty much who i am. >> narrator: where winning is the only option. but first -- >> three words that describe whitey bulger. >> stone cold killer. >> narrator: he was a mobster the fbi could not catch. deborah feyerick takes you
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inside one of the biggest manhunts in fbi history. [ bagpipes ] >> reporter: the church bells of saint monica near the harbor in south boston have sounded for generations of irish immigrants. [ bell ringing ] >> reporter: it is a tight-knit community that's always protected its own, a place james "whitey" bulger, one of boston's most notorious gangsters, called home. bulger learned to fight and survive on the mean streets of south boston, known as southy to locals like john shay who would decades layer later, work for bulger. >> the guy was legendary. he made tough guys shake. he made them shake. >> reporter: bulger's life of crime started early. arrested in his teens he was robbing banks by age 20. his shock of blond hair earning him the name "whitey" a name he's said to despise.
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with his rugged good looks and reckless flamboyance, bulge jer imagined himself boston's version of hollywood gangster jimmy cagney. instead of red carpets, he was headed to alcatraz. a string of bank robberiesland landing bulger ten years in federal prison at age 25. he did his time. upon release vowed he would never, ever go back. >> they had no hard proof. >> reporter: boston globe reporters dick lair and gerald o'neal uncovered the deal he cut to make sure of that. >> he got out of prison in 1965. we started doing research in 1988. he hadn't got so much as a parking ticket. >> reporter: whitey bulger, fresh from prison, went to work as a mob enforcer. but bulger wanted more. federal investigators say he'd stop at nothing to get it. >> then he went on a killing rampage. i think it's like a month he
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killed six guys in 1972. >> he was ambitious and making his move. >> reporter: he was making his move with this man, steve phlemmy, aka the rifleman. among their alleged victims, his own girlfriend deborah davis. >> back in those days before dna was in use to identify victims, he would personally get involved in cutting off the fingers or hands of the victims and extracting their teeth. >> reporter: tom fuentes ran the organized crime squad for fbi headquarters. give me three words to describe bulger. >> stone cold killer. >> reporter: why kill debbie davis? authorities say she knew bulger's secret connection with another kid from southy, john conley. >> for him it was like meeting ted williams. the idea of equating -- >> a gangster to a baseball player. >> -- to a baseball icon like that shows you the twisted
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values and perception of the world that is part of john conley. >> reporter: conley was a young ambitious fbi agent who grew up in the same housing projects. back in the '70s and '80s the fbi's number one priority was taking down the italian mafia. bulger became a prized informant. >> he did everything including breaking all kinds of laws over the years to keep that alive. >> reporter: in a series of ground-breaking articles for the boston globe, lair and o'neal uncovered what fbi sources called a dangerous alliance. >> in 1976, conley tipped him off about a rival and bulger killed him. so conley had to realize right away how serious and deadly this arrangement was. >> reporter: protected by conley and others, bulger's criminal enterprise skyrocketed. court documents show bulger knew when police were watching, knew when they were moving in and ultimately knew when to disappear.
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he was shaking down book makers, loan sharks. this was a guy who was a really bad guy. >> everything that i wanted to be. >> reporter: as his power grew, so did that of his younger brother billy. >> i want you to know we are all on this open microphone, mr. president. >> a tough as nails politician, well respected as president of the massachusetts state senate. >> how do you beat a guy with intelligence and the connections that he has in that world, brother's a senate president? fbi is protecting him. it was one big family living in the projects like this. >> reporter: john shay, now a changed man, once ran bulge jer's multimillion drug operation. >> growing up here he had to be tough. >> reporter: he served 12 years in prison rather than break southy's code of silence. >> whitey being a rat, stevie being a rat and this is what i took an oath to?
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an oath of honor? it was heartbreaking. >> reporter: documents show fbi agent conley continued to feed bulger secret information, at times with deadly results. >> bulger got charged with a crime, then he could no longer be an informant. >> reporter: attorney bill kristy represents families of several of bulger's alleged victims including billy hal lore ran's family, a drug dealer who cut a deal with the fbi, only to be gunned down as he left a popular boston restaurant. according to testimony at a civil trial fbi agent conley told bulger where to find halloran. >> bulger cornered him and shot him 22 times starting with the leg up to his torso to his chest. 22 times with no head shot. so he inflicted as much pain as he could. and also did it in a fashion to make sure he knew hal lore ran would die. >> reporter: in a case of wrong place, wrong time michael donahue was giving halloran a ride home.
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slig donahue was killed instantly leaving behind a wife and three young kids who, to this day, blame the fbi in the death. >> john conley is a big reason why my father is dead. >> he's a hole in your heart. and you're thinking about what's going to take place, hopefully, in the future and then there's no future with that person. so that's a pretty gut-wrenching feeling. >> reporter: in 1994 whitey bulger's nearly 20-year reign came to an end in what was likely conley's parting gift authorities say he alerted bulger to a pending indictment and true to his word that he would never return to prison, bulger disappeared with his long-time mistress, catherine krieg, leading to one of the fbi's greatest embarrassments and one of its largest manhunts. what was whitey bulger's life about? >> power, strength, money.
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he was like a king, that guy. he was like a king. >> reporter: coming up, how one of america's most notorious gangsters remained comfortably hidden for nearly 16 years. >> he became the elvis of gangsters. [ male announcer ] 95% of all americans aren't getting enough whole grain. but actually, it's never been easier to get the whole grain you want from your favorite big g cereals. from cheerios to lucky charms, there's whole grain in every box. make sure to look for the white check. a farewell long awaited. goodnight, stuffy. goodnight, outdated. goodnight old luxury and all of your wares. goodnight bygones everywhere. [ engine turns over ] good morning, illumination. good morning, innovation. good morning unequaled inspiration. [ male announcer ] the audi a8, chosen by car & driver as the best luxury sedan in a recent comparison test.
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>> reporter: santa monica is the perfect place to retire. beautiful beaches packed with people. an ideal place to blend in or disappear. that's precisely what whitey bulger did. the reputed crime boss and his long-time girlfriend catherine greig setting up house blocks away from the ocean in a corner apartment partly hidden by trees. bulger had planned ahead knowing he may one day run says tom fuentes who spent years tracking the fugitives. >> he had millions of dollars in cash. he took off to a number of different countries and cities and put cash in safe deposit boxes he could access later. he didn't need to be contacting people. he could establish a new
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identity and eventually just take over a new name. >> reporter: that identity, mr. and mrs. charlie and carol gasco, a self-described chicago businessman and his younger wife who were into nutrition and long walks and who secretly stuffed stacks of cash and heavy duty assault weapons in the apartment walls. >> these are your neighbors. >> yeah. that's the way i saw them. >> reporter: that's how you always saw them? >> uh-huh. only him with a hat. i didn't know he was bald. >> reporter: 88-year-old catalina eventually befriended her upstairs neighbors. but there were privacy boundaries you did not cross like asking the gascos to hold a spare key in case of emergency. >> she says, let me talk to my husband. she came back and said, no, charlie said he doesn't want you to give him anything. no, we don't want to.
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>> reporter: by all accounts, whitey bulger kept a low profile. he didn't have problems with the people who lived on his hall. according to one neighbor he didn't divulge much but said he had originally come from chicago and fought in the korean war. the neighbor said a couple times he caught whitey bulger on his balcony peering out with his binoculars. from his crime days bulger knew the easiest way to be caught was to become complacent. he changed his patterns. even when it came to getting his hair cut. the salon owner fehima betts. >> i asked him to make appointment but he never did. he just walked in. he never left me a number or anything. >> reporter: in fact, court documents show bulger and agreeing had numerous fake identities. after his arrest bulger said he went gambling in las vegas, took trips to tijuana to buy medication and even returned to boston on business allegedly
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telling agents he was armed to the teeth. all the while the fbi was scrambling to find the gangster who had corrupted bureau agents. >> that's probably the worst thing. >> reporter: former fbi special agent in charge barry mohen arrived in boston two years after bulger disappeared. he put bulger on the fbi's top ten most wanted list and had him featured on crime shows, even in a dick tracy comic book. >> we weren't trying to hide him or not find him. if you looked at what we did, it's impossible to draw that conclusion. >> reporter: officials say 12,000 leads came in over 16 years. fuentes, leading the fbi east international effort said they followed up sightings in ireland, london and south america. >> there were thousands of police officers involved in the around the clock operation. any time there was a sighting of him worldwide, everybody went full bore to follow up on leads
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to find him. in a way, he became the elvis of gangsters. he was constantly being spotted somewhere. >> have you seen this woman? >> reporter: the break in the case came in june after the fbi paid for a public service announcement aimed at finding bulger's girlfriend. it never even aired in los angeles. but a news story led to a crucial tip and an arrest three days later. bulger, lured into the garage on a ruse that someone had broken into his locker. these are some of the 30 weapons fbi agents confiscated from bulger's apartment. >> van number one, van number two. >> reporter: after more than 5,000 days on the run, bulger was brought back to boston in handcuffs, charged with 19 murders. in court he denied them all. the damage he caused to the fbi still haunts the bureau to this day. in hindsight do you think the fbi acted too slowly to follow
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up on rumors that there was a leak and a dangerous leak that was letting whitey bulger run free? >> yes. i do think that. >> reporter: how this plays out is anyone's guess. bulger turns 82 in september. will he cooperate? stand trial? cut a deal? depends on who you ask. his former drug boss john shay, now a writer, says bulger has the feds right where he wants them. >> he's playing them. trust me. psychologically, he is playing them. is he giving them information? is he talking to them? you guarantee he is. >> reporter: so why here? why so near the statue of santa monica? consider this. in south boston, bulger grew up attending the church of saint monica. perhaps it's a coincidence. perhaps it's a clue.
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some kind of locator. after all, whitey bulger left little to chance. >> announcer: next on cnn presents, kaj larson explains why the usa navy built this remote camp in the frigid arctic. >> man battle stations. >> announcer: and goes under the ice on a nuclear submarine. and later -- >> no, it's not good enough. >> announcer: they don't just cheer on the sidelines. >> that's it. >> a team determined to win a world championship at any cost. >> you know, this is it. this is what's going to determine the success of your year. experience dual-action power, with listerine® whitening plus restoring rinse. it's the only listerine® that gets teeth two shades whiter and makes tooth enamel two times stronger. get dual-action listerine® whitening rinse. building whiter, stronger teeth.
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it's a pleasant 60 degrees at my home in l.a. today. but where i'm going, it could be as cold as 60 below zero. every two years, the u.s. military conducts an operation in the arctic circle called ice exercise, better known as ice-x. the arctic region consists of
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eight countries that border a vast ice-covered ocean. no one country owns the arctic. there are some agreements governing who controls what territory, but as the ice melts, those lines on the map are changing and each nation is competing to extend its arctic border to claim a greater piece of the valuable high north. i don't think often about what's going on in the arctic. with global warming opening up vast riches of resources and military exercises with nuclear subs converging underneath the polar ice cap, i want to know what's going on at the top of the world and why. as i launch to the arctic, i talk via skype with arctic expert professor rob hubert about the spike in activity in the region. >> most of the arctic states are now moving towards the improvement of their combat capable forces within that region. no one is calling for an arctic war or conflict at this point. it is telling that we have two
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american attack submarines doing scientific research off the coast of alaska. prudhoe bay, alaska, last stop in the u.s. before heading to the ice station. it's time to get armed with some real cold weather gear. >> bring on the arctic. >> hopefully everyone has a book, survival in the arctic. >> reporter: the only way to get where we are going is a six-seater bush plane. finally, amidst a sea of arctic ice, we spot the camp. >> how you doing? >> kaj larsen. >> reporter: with the u.s. submarines below our feet i get my first look at a series of simple wooden huts built in the last two months to protect everyone from the extreme conditions. look at this right here. a balmy 10 degrees. it is a balmy 10 degrees.
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about 50 people from sailors to scientists have been adjusting to living at the ice station over the course of the exercise. >> there's no magazine rack or anything in there. also importantly is the effectiveness of toilet paper is significantly diminished at minus 40. >> reporter: just basic survival at the camp is a challenge. you can't go outside without carrying a rifle in case a polar bear attacks. we are on five feet of ice and we are moving two to four miles per hour. it's just floating. over the course of the one-month long ice exercise, it will move about 70 miles just from drift alone. so why am i here? why has the arctic become a hot spot? the world is physically changing beneath my feet. with global warming, the polar ice cap is melting, opening up an ocean for the first time since the ice age. this has created access to all
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kinds of new resources but it's also created competition at the top of the world. >> if the arctic sea opens up, ships sailing from the atlantic to the pacific oceans traditionally relying on the panama canal route can instead use the northwest passage, saving thousands of miles and hundreds of millions of dollars. a third of the world's natural gas is believed to be under the polar ice cap. the arctic riches contain everything from oil to minerals to diamonds. not everyone believes the quest for resources means competition. in anchorage i was briefed by professor lawson brigham. >> there is complexity. can be some friction but not a high level of military conflict issues that i would see. >> professor brigham's colleague from the university of calgary disagrees. >> i think at this point we are on the cusp of becoming remilitarized. people are thinking in military terms than they ever did since
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the end of the cold war. >> back at ice camp, military exercises are, indeed, under way. >> maverick, roger, all lines to sierra, receive. >> reporter: the command hut monitors and communicates with u.s. submarines 24 hours a day. >> this is the new hampshire here. and this is the connecticut right here. that's us in the middle. >> reporter: in the past submarines had to surface to communicate. one of the systems in development allows the base camp to accepted texts to the submarine under the ice. >> it's almost like a tweet. tweet to submarines down here. i press send. there is a hydrophone that blasts out the sound. it sounds like crickets. >> reporter: many of the operations are classified but what we saw was an amalgam of testing, acoustics, submarine tracking, sonar all under the umbrella of research.
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in your opinion what's the purpose of ice-x? >> clearly there is a scientific basis. it's a nice little cover but the reality is the american navy is clearly showing that it is back. >> reporter: this is a land grab. this is the u.s. presence in the high north. but we are not alone. other nations are rapidly building their capabilities in the arctic as well. russia is creating an arctic armed forces. just this month announcing it will deploy two army brigades including special forces. it has resumed strategic bomber flights over the north pole. the canadian government has eight patrol vessels. denmark is deploying f-16s to green land. norway is building five new frigates. >> reporter: and the real value is beneath the surface. that's where we are going next, on a nuclear submarine under the ice.
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i'm don lemon. here are your headlines. police in norway are not ruling out the possibility that more than one person carried out a pair of deadly terror attacks that killed at least 92 people. local media identify this man as the lone suspect in custody now. his name is appeareders bearing breivik described as a right wing fundamentalist. 80 people died in a mass shooting. at least seven others died in an
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earlier car bombing in the capital oslo. congressional leaders from both parties held a saturday afternoon meeting on capitol hill trying to forge some sort of agreement to raise the debt ceiling and met for less than an hour earlier in the day at the white house with president obama. there's still no deal but they have agreed to try to reach compromise before sunday night to avoid disruptions to the world financial markets. five-time grammy winner amy winehouse has been found dead in her done apartment. police say the cause of deaths is unexplained. a neighbor reportedly heard screaming coming from her home friday night. she had been troubled with alcohol and drug addiction recently cutting short her tour after becoming incoherent on is taken. she was 27 years old. those are your headlines this hour. i'm don lemon keeping you informed, cnn, the most trusted name in news.
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>> reporter: in 2007, a scientific exploration planted a russian flag at the bottom of the arctic seabed. what some publically dismissed as a political stunt was privately considered in some circles a sputnik-like moment. according to secret leaked cables published by wikileaks the rest of the world began scrambling to make sure they got a piece of the arctic pie. that's how i came to be t n the arctic circle to observe the escalating tension and activity in the region. oh, yeah. that's brisk. at daybreak, we headed out to rendezvous with one of the two u.s. nuclear submarines patrolling in the arctic. you know "planes, trains & automobiles"? the cnn version is ice planes, helicopters and submarines. the helicopter dropped us and our equipment at the rendezvous site. a three-foot thick sheet of ice
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several miles away from the base camp. with no ocean in sight, hundreds of miles from the nearest cell phone tower, it was hard to imagine how on earth a submarine would find me. are we a go for ice man surfacing? over. >> reporter: an x in the ice indicated where the sub was to surface. then the ground started to rumble. with 18 feet of the 353-foot long sea wolf class sub on the surface, the ground crew takes chainsaws to cut their way through the ice to the hull. the then commanding officer is first up from below. >> this ship is amazing. amazing capabilities here.
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>> reporter: after weeks under water the crew took a few precious moments of fresh air, then we loaded our gear and headed below decks. >> stationary dive. stationary dive. >> open four and a half main vents. ballast vents. >> reporter: a small camera mounted on top of the sub was our only visual reference that we were making a descent 300 feet below the surface of the polar ice cap. one of the amazing things about a modern submarine is that they are almost entirely self-sufficient like a biodome. they run on nuclear energy so they can virtually go forever. they make their own oxygen with this oxygen-generating plant right here. they even make their own water through a process called hydrolysis where they scrub salt water. the only thing that limits a submarine is how much food they can carry. the 160-man crew doesn't exactly follow a regular schedule.
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>> the ship is in a six-hour rotation watch. so you end up feeding the crew four times a day. >> reporter: the sub operates on an 18-hour day. a sairl essentially gets six hours on watch, six hours off, and six hours to sleep before it starts all over again. after our first meal on board we began navigating an the labyrinthne passageways of the sub. i ran into petty officer joshua cosan to ask what life is like on the sub. >> this is basically your home away from home. opens up. we've got a bunch of treats. you know, different things you you can eat. all your clothes and magazines or whatever you bring underwith you. you can bring snacks or whatever as long as it stays in your rack. you have to keep it in here, keep it clean. >> reporter: space is such a commodity every nook and cranny is used for something. >> finally, we descended to level three. >> we are taking you into the torpedo room which is the heart
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and soul of the submarine. >> reporter: the "connecticut" is an attack submarine, described to be quieter and faster than the russian class of submarine. it carries an arsenal up to 50 advanced capability torpedos and tomahawk land attack missiles. while it runs on nuclear power, it doesn't carry nuclear weapons. its purpose is to find subs that do reminding us of our primary reason for being here. 25 years ago it was common for u.s. and soviet subs to play cat and mouse underneath the ice. with the break-up of the soviet union that activity ebbed. now renewed interest in the arctic has brought new players with rumors of chinese subs operating in the region as well as the old guard, u.s. and russia. as all the nations gear up, the "uss connecticut is preparing for war beneath the sea. >> man battle stations. [ alarm sounding ] >> man battle stations.
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man battle stations. >> all stations. >> reporter: this was just a drill. but the captain reminded the crew of the larger purpose. >> it's always good to do this, even up here while we conduct the exercises under the ice because this is our main mission, taking this ship into harm's way and protecting our country. great job getting on station. hoo-yah. >> reporter: after traveling thousands of miles on planes, snowmobiles, helicopters and submarines, we had come to a region in flux. what seemed like a cold wasteland masked a rapidly changing environment. vast resources are up for grabs. couched in the language of diplomacy countries are preaching cooperation but simultaneously preparing for conflict. the cold war is over.
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as i disembark the submarine, i was left with the feeling that there might be a new type of cold war under way at the top of the world. >> announcer: coming up, dedicated athletes willing to do whatever it takes to hold onto the world championship title. >> you would expect a football player playing in the super bowl to play even if he had an injury. een easier to get the whole grain you want from your favorite big g cereals. from cheerios to lucky charms, there's whole grain in every box. make sure to look for the white check. a network of possibilities. in here, the planned combination of at&t and t-mobile would deliver our next generation mobile broadband experience to 55 million more americans, many in small towns and rural communities,
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check your steps at foodsafety.gov. okay, girls. from one. here we go. >> reporter: far from the sidelines of a football field, this defiz the stereotype of what it means to be a cheerleader. >> let's go! >> reporter: it's called all-star cheerleading. it's as demanding and athletic as many sports. and in a decade, it's become wildly popular. [ cheers ] >> reporter: fiercely competitive, and for some of the 200,000 young women involved, it's become their world. [ screaming ] come on. >> reporter: 17-year-old maddy gardener is one of the best
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all-star cheerleaders in the country. she's been competing since she was 7 years old. >> yeah, maddy, come on! >> competitive cheer leading is really more action-packed and more difficult than high school cheerleading. to me, it is my passion. it became my sport. now it's my life and it's what i do. it's pretty much who i am. >> come on, guys! >> reporter: maddy trains year round at cheer extreme in north carolina. one of the largest and most elite all-star cheerleading gyms. >> it is a big commitment to be here, you know, every day for three, four hours. i'm doing homework on the way here, i'm doing homework on practice breaks. i'm taking four a.p. classes. so i really set high goals for myself. i think cheer cloudying has taught me that, too.
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don't settle for second best. >> reporter: do you feel you have had to sacrifice any of your teenage years for the sport? >> i wouldn't want to be anywhere else, honestly. this is what i love to do. >> that did not count. >> reporter: her coach courtney pope says the dedication on maddy's team is as intense as their practices. >> more than 50% of the team live two hours away. that means getting home from school, getting in the car at 4:00, hoping you don't get in traffic, get here at practice at 6:00, get home at midnight and start all over again. >> reporter: maddy's team competes at regional and national events, performing two and a half minute routines of powerful tumbling, high flying stunts, and impressive teamwork. you are a flyer. >> i am. >> reporter: the center point flyer. >> oh, yeah. >> reporter: what does that mean? >> i am in the center of the routine for the stunting part. you, in a way, carry the stunt sequence. because the judges really focus in on the center of the routine.
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>> reporter: what's the most challenging stunt you do? >> it's called a ball-up 360 tick-tock. i think it is the most challenging right now on the market. >> reporter: but it's one you nail? >> yeah, most of the time. knock on wood. it was the first time anyone had ever done something like that. that skill last year at worlds when i performed it. >> reporter: maddy is talking about the all-star cheerleading world championship. >> it's like a gymnast going to the olympics. you know, that's their ultimate goal. [ screaming ] >> reporter: last year, maddy's stunt helped her team win a gold medal for the first time. >> it was kind of just like all this emotion exploded and i just kind of threw my body onto the floor. it was really emotional. just relief, knowing that everything that i worked for for the past couple years had paid
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off. >> reporter: the team's success turned maddy into a cheerlebrity. hundreds of fans want to be friends with her now on facebook. >> i have 960 friend requests right now. >> reporter: with the 2011 championship just weeks away, maddie's team is counting on her to help them win gold again. you guys are going in as reigning world champions this year. the pressure must be intense. >> i definitely feel like it's harder to hold onto the top spot than it was climbing to the top last year. so it's definitely stressful. >> totally unacceptable. >> reporter: maddie feels the pressure perhaps more than anyone. she is still haunted by a devastating fall at word championship in 2009. the team's mistakes cost them the gold. maddie blames herself. >> you know, it's still in the
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back of my mind even though you try to push it out. i felt like i ruined it for everybody which is some hard feelings to go through. >> three, two, one. ♪ >> reporter: so maddie pushes herself even harder. but just weeks before this year's competition, a sudden setback. >> they told me that i had sprained my acl and that other ligament. hopefully i will be able to practice for the rest of the time leading up to worlds. ♪ ♪ [ male announcer ] more people are leaving bmw, mercedes, and lexus for audi than ever before. ♪ experience the summer of audi event and get over 130 channels of siriusxm satellite radio
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for three months at no charge. setting that goal to become a principal. but, i have to support my family, so how do i go back to school? university of phoenix made it doable. a lot of my instructors were principals in my district. i wouldn't be where i am without that degree. my name is dr. carrie buck. i helped turn an at-risk school into an award winning school, and i am a phoenix. [ male announcer ] find your program at phoenix.edu.
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welcome to practice! get ready! here we go. come on! come on, finish it! come on, guys. stay with it! we already know that's a mistake. you need to fix it. try it again. >> i told you to be careful. >> ow! >> reporter: the world championship of all-star cheerleading is just weeks away and cheer extreme's chances of holding onto the title suddenly seem to be slipping away. the team star, maddie gardner, is sitting on the sidelines with a painful knee injury.
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>> it's really hot. it feels like fire honestly. when i first got hurt it felt like a hot knife. and it kind of is a milder version of that. >> it was definitely bad timing. i fell out of a stunt. almost tore my acl which would have been really bad. >> reporter: after missing a week of training maddie cautiously takes the mat and works through the pain. >> the more i do the worse it gets. i probably shouldn't be doing as much but it will be worth it in the end. ♪ >> oh! >> five, six! >> reporter: maddie is ready to do whatever it takes to hold onto their title. for the next three weeks the team will spend four to five days a week in the gym, practicing for perfection. >> no! >> reporter: with their coach courtney pope. >> who remembers the practice for four hours where i stood
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right here and we fixed every single person this way? every step has to be in sync. >> it is not together. this is no more synchronized in the opening than it was in january when we made it up. >> reporter: every flip, flawless. >> no. it's not good enough. >> come on! >> reporter: they will do it over and over until they get it right. >> hit one and stop. you're exhausted, right? these are the moments when worlds is won or not. do the stunt again tired and mean it. here we go. >> reporter: as the championship approaches, maddie's determination gets stronger. what are you going to do at worlds if your knee is acting up? >> you would expect a football player playing in the super bowl to play even if he had an injury. it's the same thing to me. i mean, this is the olympics of our sport. so obviously i'm going to get through it.
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we're not going to let anything stop us this year. >> announcer: please welcome to the floor cheer extreme, senior elite! [ applause ] >> reporter: saturday, april 30, 2011. the first day of the world championships. ♪ >> reporter: after an impressive performance, maddie gardner feels confident going into finals the next day. >> everything was perfect. everything hit. we were on time. ♪ >> it was synchronized. all the stunts were up. it was just unbelievable. [ cheers and applause ] >> it's 271.1. >> reporter: but the mood suddenly changes when the team learns they are in third place. [ crying ] >> hey, hey. i know that we are disappointed
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in the ranking. but the reality is that close, do you want to go third? >> no! >> do you want to fix it? >> yes. right now. >> reporter: desperate to hold onto the title they want to practice now. but it's near midnight and there are no open gyms. >> one, two, three and four. five six. >> reporter: so they wake up early for an emergency practice on the golf course behind the hotel. >> you cannot, like, be jack russell terriers that decides you are going to get to your pyramid spot faster than anybody else does. >> reporter: maddie is pushing through the pain in her knee. >> you can't help but think this is it. this is what's going to determine the success of your year. >> reporter: no more time to practice. now it's game time. >> look me in the eyes. i watched your team 700 trillion times. i know we can be even better. got it? i know we can.
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>> you've got to talk about it. let's all just admit that, like, we're terrified. we're not like, you can't practice to the point where you're like, we absolutely have this because who knows what's going to happen? >> reporter: backstage, the team tries to calm their nerves. [ chanting ] >> announcer: from north carolina, senior elite! ♪ >> reporter: it begins near perfect. then maddie's famous stunt -- comes crashing down. watching the replay is tough.
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[ applause ] >> maddie! yes! >> reporter: it wasn't the team's only mistake and they know the gold medal is probably out of reach. walk me through what happened here at worlds today. >> i felt ready, but i didn't feel like i knew i should. first part of the routine was just awesome. when it came to my specialty stunt it kind of went bad. i don't really know what happened. >> announcer: all right. we are moving on to the globes. the top three teams. the bronze champion, cheer extreme all stars. >> reporter: after all the dedication, sweat and sacrifice it's hard to hear they aren't world champions.
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their rivals take home the gold. >> it's hard not to feel like it was your fault. pretty much going into this all we had to do was hit and we could win. that just -- it wasn't happening for us. >> maddie, she'll be fine. maddie is a brilliant genius. it takes setbacks and, you know, disappointments to really get to the best of who we all can be. she's going to be something fantastic. >> reporter: it's an emotional end to a year of intense pressure and gruelling training. but practice is starting all over for the next season. and maddie will go for the gold again. >> maybe now that we're not on top we can come back next year and take it back. we'll see what happens. i wouldn't consider not coming back for a second. it's just who i am. you know, i have to prove myself again now.